Governor Noem announces plan to restrict foreign purchases of ag land

PIERRE, S.D.(Press Release) – On Wednesday, Governor Kristi Noem and legislators announced proposed legislation to restrict foreign purchases of agricultural land in South Dakota. The plan creates a new board, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – South Dakota (CFIUS-SD), which will investigate proposed purchases of ag land by foreign interests and recommend either approval or denial to the Governor.

“With this new process, we will be able to prevent nations who hate us – like Communist China – from buying up our state’s agriculture land,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “We cannot allow the Chinese Communist Party to continue to buy up our nation’s food supply, so South Dakota will lead the charge on this vital national security issue.”

The prime sponsors of the legislation will be Senator Erin Tobin (R-Winner) and Representative-elect Gary Cammack (R-Union Center).

“For those of us who have lived and worked on the land, we know that it’s our past, but also our future,” said Senator Erin Tobin. “We grow the world’s food, and we need to protect the security of that food supply for our kids.”

The CFIUS-SD board would be made up of three ex officio members: the Governor’s General Counsel (who would serve as board chair), the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Director of the South Dakota Office of Homeland Security (part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety). The board would also include two governor’s appointees: an agricultural industry expert who owns at least 160 acres of agricultural land in SD, and a national and/or state security or foreign policy expert.

“With vital national security resources like Ellsworth Air Force Base, we cannot afford for our enemies to purchase land in South Dakota,” said Representative-elect Gary Cammack. “We want to keep this land in the hands of South Dakota agriculture producers. I look forward to working with Governor Noem and my colleagues to guarantee the continued security of our state and nation.”

The jurisdiction of CFIUS-SD would cover transactions on or after July 1, 2023, including:

  • Any transaction of any number of acres – including a land transfer, purchase, grant, devise, descent, or inheritance of agricultural land – involving a “foreign entity” (any foreign person, foreign government, foreign business, or any organization controlled by a foreign person, government, or business);
  • Any lease of agricultural land to a foreign entity for a period of one year or longer; and,
  • Any transaction previously considered by the federal CFIUS board.

Currently, South Dakota has a law on the books limiting aggregate foreign ownership of agricultural land to 160 acres.

Two weeks ago, Governor Noem signed an Executive Order banning TikTok for South Dakota state government. Since then, the number of states banning TikTok for state governments has risen to eight.

Last week, Governor Noem called on the South Dakota Investment Council (SDIC) to immediately review all state investments for potential ties to nations that hate America, like Communist China. The SDIC has already divested from multiple Chinese holdings as a result of that call.